Greece beats Denmark to qualify for Euro 2003 basketball finals

Greece’s 75-60 victory over Denmark on Wednesday night, the national team’s eighth triumph in as many qualifiers for next summer’s European Basketball Championships in Sweden, has assured the side a berth in the competition. Despite a slow start in the Group B game, the Greek team, playing in the Danish city of Aarhus, built a nine-point lead midway through the second quarter. By the end of the third quarter, the margin was widened to 20 points. Denmark staged a rally in the final quarter but the game was out of reach. The scoring among the winning side’s ranks was balanced. Young stars Antonis Fotsis and Lazaros Papadopoulos led the way with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Prior to the game, six national team players underwent doping tests after a group of inspectors made a surprise visit to the camp. The Greek squad was reportedly agitated by the ambush but the team doctor, Costas Parisis, said his players had no need for concern. Parisis expressed support for an ongoing campaign aimed at eradicating performance-enhancing drugs from sports. «We’re in favor of every effort made to fight doping, and our nation’s team players were made available to the doctors,» Parisis said. «We’ll have the results in 10 to 15 days,» he added. The tests on the members of Greece’s national basketball side come just days after the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) general secretary, Istvan Gyulai, claimed that some Greek track athletes were avoiding making themselves available for doping tests. SEGAS, the Greek athletic federation, hit back by saying that Greek athletes have always abided by IAAF regulations. The visiting drug-testing team, WADA, a group of Swedish doping authorities recognized by both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIBA, basketball’s international authority, has been conducting random tests, on both individual and team athletes, regularly since the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Besides the team captain, Giorgos Sigalas, – who, incidentally, played his 168th game with the national team to join retired star Nikos Galis in sixth place – the other five players tested were Andreas Glyniadakis, Nikos Hadzivrettas, Theodoros Papaloukas, Costas Tsartsaris and Lazaros Papadopoulos. Spain also took an important step toward qualifying for Sweden on Wednesday night with a 79-71 win over Israel in Tel Aviv. The Spaniards, who have lost just once, to Greece, have accumulated 15 points in Group B, one fewer than Greece. Israel lies third with 12 points, and is trailed by Romania with 14, Belgium with 10, and Denmark with eight. Two teams qualify.

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